Thursday, March 30, 2023

Search Warrant Leads to the Discovery of an Arsenal in a Covelo Home


The following is a press release issued by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office. The information has not been proven in a court of law and any individuals described should be presumed innocent until proven guilty:

Seized Firearms During Search Warrant Service [Picture provided by MCSO]

On 12-29-2021 at about 11:09 PM, a Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputy conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle with expired registration in Covelo, California.

The Deputy contacted the driver and registered owner, Leonard Whipple III and (4) four juveniles in the vehicle.

The Deputy conducted a records check on all the individuals and discovered a 16 year-old juvenile male occupant had a felony warrant for his arrest.

The Deputy smelled burnt marijuana, saw burnt marijuana cigarettes, and noticed bud marijuana inside the vehicle. 

The Deputy conducted a search of the vehicle and found over (10) ten small zip lock bags containing like amounts of bud marijuana, along with (31) thirty-one similar unused bags and larger bags containing bud marijuana. The Deputy believed this to be consistent with the transportation for sale of marijuana. 

Whipple III was cited and released for 11360 HS (transportation for sale of marijuana). The 16 year-old juvenile male was arrested and transported to the Mendocino County Juvenile Hall. 

On 01-01-2022 at about 4:00 PM Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies along with California Department of Fish & Wildlife Wardens went to a residence in the 400 block of Hatchet Mountain Boulevard in Covelo to serve a search warrant related to the traffic stop. 

The Deputies contacted Teresa Bettega in front of the location and advised her of the search warrant.  Bettega at first was compliant and was going to let the Deputies into the residence but for some unknown reason began blocking the door and was physically resistant.

Bettega was placed into handcuffs and detained in a patrol car. Deputies entered the residence and found a 13 year-old juvenile inside.

Deputies located (14) fourteen firearms, along with ammunition, high capacity magazines and drugs inside the residence. Most of the firearms were located in Leonard Whipple III’s bedroom.

Deputies noticed none of the firearms were secured (to prevent individuals from access) and most were loaded and accessible to the juveniles that lived at the location. This included two loaded firearms and ammunition in the 13 year-old juvenile’s bedroom. 

Some of the firearms had characteristics of being classified as an assault weapon in California and there were (2) two unlawful short barreled shotguns.

Bettega was arrested for resisting Deputies with violence (69 PC) and child endangerment (273a(A) PC).  Bettega was booked into the Mendocino County Jail were she was to be held in lieu of $50,000.00 bail. 

During the investigation, Deputies located evidence to show Leonard Whipple Jr. had also been associated with the firearms located. Deputies confirmed Leonard Whipple Jr. was prohibited by law from owning or possessing firearms and ammunition.

Deputies attempted to locate Whipple III and Whipple Jr. with negative results.

After the search warrant and investigation was concluded, a Mendocino County Superior Court Judge issued arrest warrants for both Whipple Jr. and Whipple III in connection with the search warrant service. 


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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFever
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at if you know a story that needs to be told.

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